Everyone asks: How do I avoid bank charges?

Quite a  few smaller hotels in Europe will insist on a deposit of funds in euros to a bank account before they accept a booking. While you can complete this transaction through your Australian bank, the bank will charge a hefty fee for the service, and there’s a good chance the bank at the other end will also shave off a receiving fee. However there are several non-bank alternatives and they offer a better deal.

Currency Fair (currencyfair.com) is one way to transfer funds to bank accounts worldwide. You simply set up an account with Currency Fair, deposit funds and then nominate which bank account you want the funds paid into. You can use their currency converter to get a rough idea of how much in Australian dollars you need to deposit in order to fund your transaction and if you pay in more, you can then return any surplus to your own bank account. The fee for a standard transfer is €3.

Since Currency Fair’s AUD account is held in Sydney, you should be able to transfer funds to this account at zero cost from your own Australian bank account. Currency Fair is fully regulated as an Authorised Payments Institution by the Central Bank of Ireland and clients’ funds are held in a major global bank.

World First (worldfirst.com.au) is a British-based financial institution that provides a similar service. World First has accounts with Westpac so you should be able to avoid any fees that would be involved if you were transferring funds to a foreign bank. As a private client, you will pay a fee of $15 for each payment and transactions must be $250 or greater, which may put it at a disadvantage to Currency Fair – although World First does offer a highly competitive exchange rate.

Western Union (westernunion.com.au) is another alterative, but the exchange rate they apply makes this a relative expensive way to transfer funds.